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Personal Defense 



Principles of Personal Defense 
by Jeff Cooper 

Copyright © 1989 by Jeff Cooper 

ISBN 0-87364-497-2 I 

Printed in the United States of America 

Published by Paladin Press, a division of 
Paladin Enterprises, Inc., P.O. Box 1307, 
Boulder, Colorado 80306, USA. 
(303) 443-7250 

Direct inquiries and/or orders to the above address. 

PALADIN, PALADIN PRESS, and the "horse head" design 
are trademarks belonging to Paladin Enterprises and 
registered in United States Patent and Trademark Office. 

All rights reserved. Except for use in a review, no 
portion of this book may be reproduced in any form 
without the express written permission of the publisher. 

Neither the author nor the publisher assumes 
any responsibility for the use or misuse of 
information contained in this book. 


Preface vii 

Introduction 1 

Principle One: Alertness 5 

Principle Two: Decisiveness 11 

Principle Three: Aggressiveness 17 

Principle Four: Speed 23 

Principle Five: Coolness 27 

Principle Six: Ruthlessness 33 

Principle Seven: Surprise 39 

A Final Word 43 



It is not common for one to enjoy rereading something 
that he wrote a decade previously. Times change, styles 
change, attitudes change, and most of all people grow, both 
intellectually and emotionally. It is therefore with gratifica- 
tion and some little surprise that I was able to reread Prin- 
ciples of Personal Defense at the request of the publishers, 
and to discover that I felt no need to change anything of 
importance. It stands as it stood, and insofar as it spoke the 
truth ten years ago, it speaks it still 

The booklet is essentially a digest of a presentation I 
developed while working in Central America before the 
Communist takeover there. This part of the world has al- 
ways been turbulent, and the need for individual self- 
defense has remained fairly constant ever since the depar- 
ture of the Spanish in the early part of the nineteenth cen- 
tury. Individual conduct in lethal confrontation is not, 
however, something that is confined to any one locale or 
era, and if there are principles guiding its conduct -and I 
believe there are— those principles do not change according 
to geography, history, or sociological whim. If a principle 
exists it must be immutable, for that is what a principle is— 


a truth standing apart from the mood of the times. 

If I were to rewrite this pamphlet completely, the only 
thing I would change would be those few personal anec- 
dotes that appear within it. I would update them to include 
only those that have taken place within the last year or so. 
As it now stands, the anecdotes are all at least ten years old, 
but the more I look at them, the more I realize that there is 
no need to change them, because the experiences that have 
more recently come across my desk, and in which I have 
lately been involved, simply corroborate what has already 
been set down. These experiences could be rewritten to 
include nothing that happened more than one year ago and 
we would have the same story. Thus it has not been neces- 
sary to do any extensive rewriting. 

To emphasize this point, however, I should mention 
that only this last week another episode came to my atten- 
tion that was immensely satisfying in its exemplification of 
several of the principles set forth in this work. It seems a 
yachtsman was asleep in his power cruiser docked in the 
Bahamas. After midnight he opened one eye to be aware of 
two intruders in his cabin, one of whom was pointing a 
Mini- 14 at his chest from a range of about eighteen inches. 
This is a startling situation. This is an intimidating situa- 
tion. It might properly be termed a terrifying situation. But 
the man remembered his principles and instantly attacked, 
with his hands, and won. He personified the principles of 
decisiveness, aggressiveness, speed, and surprise in a most 
satisfactory manner. 

Stories such as this come to my attention with such fre- 
quency that it would take a whole directory to list them. 
They establish beyond any question that the principles we 
have taught over the decades, and still continue to teach at 


Gunsite, are valid beyond any contradiction. Our work here 
is conducted in order to keep the victims of aggression 
alive, and the knowledge that it succeeds is our reward. 

Principles of Personal Defense has been received with 
only moderate enthusiasm by the law enforcement estab- 
lishment. Several departments have adopted it, but only 
with the deletion of the principles of aggressiveness and 
ruthlessness. It obviously makes for bad press to have a 
department known as both aggressive and ruthless. This is 
quite understandable, but it does not invalidate the prin- 
ciples. In war there is no substitute for victory, and this is 
equally true of personal combat, which is, after all, a 
microcosm of war. When a coward is offered deadly vio- 
lence, his reaction may be to surrender, or cower, or flee, or 
call for help; not one of these choices is likely to obviate his 

But this booklet was not written for cowards. 
I think it stands as well now as when it was first written, 
and I have nothing further to add to it. 



Some people prey upon other people. Whether we like 
it or not, this is one of the facts of life. It has always been 
so and it is not going to change. The number of sociopaths 
in a stipulated population varies widely, but we can take a 
figure of one in one hundred, for simplicity's sake, and not 
be far off. About one person in one hundred will, under 
some circumstances, initiate a violent attack upon another, 
in defiance of the law, for reasons that seem sufficient to 
him at the time. Take the able-bodied male population of 
your community, divide it by one hundred, and you have a 
fair approximation of the number of possible contacts who 
just might take it upon themselves to beat your head in. It is 
not pertinent to dispute the mathematics of this calculation. 
It may be wrong for your place and time. But anyone who 
is aware of his environment knows that the peril of physical 
assault does exist, and that it exists everywhere and at all 
times. The police, furthermore, can protect you from it only 

The author assumes that the right of self-defense exists. 
Some people do not. This booklet is not for them. This is 
for those who feel that anyone who chooses physically to 


attack another human being does so at his peril In some 
jurisdictions it is held that the victim of an attacker must, 
above all, attempt to escape. This is a nice legalistic con- 
cept, but it is very often tactically unsound. By the time one 
has exhausted every means of avoiding conflict it may be 
too late to save his life. Laws vary, and cannot be mem- 
orized encyclopedically; in any case, we are not con- 
cerned here about jurisprudence, but about survival. If one 
lives through a fight, we will assume that he is better off 
than if he does not, even though he may be thereafter 
confronted with legal action. 

Violent crime is feasible only if its victims are cowards. 
A victim who fights back makes the whole business 
impractical. It is true that a victim who fights back may 
suffer for it, but one who does not almost certainly will 
suffer for it. And, suffer or not, the one who fights back 
retains his dignity and his self-respect Any study of the 
atrocity list of recent years— Starkweather, Speck, Manson, 
Richard Hickok and Cary Smith, et al— shows immediately 
that the victims, by their appalling ineptitude and timidity, 
virtually assisted in their own murders. ("Don't make them 
mad, Martha, so they won't hurt us.") 

Any man who is a man may not, in honor, submit to 
threats or violence. But many men who are not cowards are 
simply unprepared for the fact of human savagery. They 
have not thought about it (incredible as this may appear to 
anyone who reads the paper or listens to the news) and they 
just don't know what to do. When they look right into the 
face of depravity or violence, they are astonished and 
confounded. This can be corrected. 

The techniques of personal combat are not covered in 
this work. The so-called "martial arts" (boxing, karate, the 


stick, the pistol, etc.) are complete studies in themselves 
and must be acquired through suitable programs of instruc- 
tion, training, and practice. It behooves all able-bodied men 
and women to consider them. But the subject of this work 
is more basic than technique, being a study of the guiding 
principles of survival in the face of unprovoked violence on 
the part of extralegal human assailants. Strategy and tactics 
are subordinate to the principles of war, just as individual 
defensive combat is subordinate to the following principles 
of personal defense. 



Principle One: 

"A commander may be forgiven for being defeated, but 
never for being surprised." This maxim is among the first to 
be impressed upon new lieutenants. It is equally applicable 
to individuals who aspire to a degree of physical security in 
today's embattled society. Alertness is, to some extent, an 
inherent personality trait, but it can nonetheless be learned 
and improved. Once we accept that our familiar and prosaic 
environment is in fact perilous, we automatically sharpen 
our senses. 

Two rules are immediately evident: Know what is 
behind you, and pay particular attention to anything out of 

It is axiomatic that the most likely direction of attack is 
from behind. Be aware of that. Develop "eyes in the back 
of your head." Eric Hartmann, the World War II German 
flying ace who is unquestionably the greatest fighter pilot 
of all time (1^405 combat missions, 352 confirmed vic- 
tories), feels that he survived because of an "extremely 
sensitive back to his neck"; and, conversely, claims that 80 


percent of his victims never knew he was in the same sky 
with them* Combat flying is not the same as personal 
defense, but the principle applies. The great majority of the 
victims of violent crime are taken by surprise. The one who 
anticipates the action wins. The one who does not, loses. 
Learn from the experience of others and don't let yourself 
be surprised. 

Make it a game. Keep a chart. Every time anyone is 
able to approach you from behind without your knowledge, 
mark down an X. Every time you see anyone you know 
before he sees you, mark down an O. Keep the Os ahead of 
the Xs. A month with no Xs establishes the formation of 
correct habits. 

Observe your cat. It is difficult to surprise him. Why? 
Naturally his superior hearing is part of the answer, but not 
all of it. He moves well, using his senses fully. He is not 
preoccupied with irrelevancies. He's not thinking about his 
job or his image or his income tax. He is putting first things 
first, principally his physical security. Do likewise. 

There are those who will object to the mood this 
instruction generates. They will complain that they do not 
wish to "live like that." They are under no obligation to do 
so. They can give up. But it is a feral world, and if one 
wishes to be at ease in it he must accommodate to it. 

Anything out of place can be a danger signal. Certainly 
anyone you don't know approaching your dwelling must be 
regarded askance. It's ninety-nine to one that he is perfectly 
harmless, but will you be ready if he turns out to be that 
other one who is not? 

Certain things are obvious: an unfamiliar car parked 
across the street for long periods with people in it who do 
not get out; a car that maintains a constant distance behind 


you while you vary your speed; young men in groups, 
without women, staying in one place and not talking. These 
things should set off a first-stage alarm in anyone, but there 
are many other signals to be read by the wary. Anyone who 
appears to be triggered out of watchfulness and into action 
by your appearance must be explained. Anyone observing 
you carefully must be explained. Anyone whose behavior 
seems to be geared to yours must be explained. If the 
explanation does not satisfy you, be ready to take appropri- 
ate defensive action. 

A common ruse of the sociopath is the penetration of a 
dwelling under false pretenses. Anyone can claim to be a 
repairman or an inspector of one sort or another. It is often 
impractical to verify credentials, but merely being aware 
that credentials may easily be falsified is protection against 
surprise. The strong need only remain watchful. The weak 
should take further precautions. 

On the street, let no stranger take your hand. To allow a 
potential assailant a firm grip on your right hand is to give 
him a possibly fatal advantage. Use your eyes. Do not enter 
unfamiliar areas that you cannot observe first. Make it a 
practice to swing wide around corners, use window glass 
for rearward visibility, and get something solid behind you 
when you pause. 

All this may sound excessively furtive and melo- 
dramatic, but those who have cultivated what might be 
called a tactical approach to life find it neither troublesome 
nor conspicuous. And, like a fastened seat belt, a life jacket, 
or a fire extinguisher, it is comforting even when un- 

Needless to say, no sensible person ever opens the door 
of his house without knowing who is knocking. If your 


entranceway does not permit visual evaluation of your 
caller, change it. The statistics may be against a threat 
waiting outside, but statistics are cold comfort after you 
discover that your case is the rare exception. 

The foregoing suggestions are merely random examples 
of ways in which the principle of alertness is manifested. 
Situations are numberless, and specific recommendations 
cannot be made to cover them all. The essential thing is to 
bear always in mind that trouble can appear at any time. Be 
aware. Be ready. Be alert. 



Principle Two: 

It is difficult for a domesticated man to change in an 
instant into one who can take quick, decisive action to meet 
a violent emergency. Most of us are unused to violent 
emergencies —especially those which can only be solved by 
the use of force and violence on our part— and these emer- 
gencies require a parturient effort of will to transform our- 
selves from chickens into hawks. Decisiveness, like alert- 
ness, is to some extent a built-in characteristic, but, also 
like alertness, it can be accentuated. In formalized combat it 
is supplied— or it should be— by appropriate orders from 
above. In cases of personal defense, it must be self- 
generated, and this is the problem. 

When "the ball is opened"— when it becomes evident 
that you are faced with violent physical assault— your life 
depends upon your selecting a correct course of action and 
carrying it through without hesitation or deviation. There 
can be no shilly-shallying. There is not time. To ponder is 
quite possibly to perish. And it is important to remember 
that the specific course you decide upon is, within certain 


parameters, less important than the vigor with which you 
execute it. The difficulty is that the proper course of action, 
when under attack, is usually to counterattack. This runs 
contrary to our normally civilized behavior, and such a de- 
cision is rather hard for even an ordinarily decisive person 
to reach. 

Short of extensive personal experience, which most of 
us would rather not amass, the best way to cultivate such 
tactical decisiveness is through hypothesis: "What would I 
do if . . . ?'* By thinking tactically, we can more easily 
arrive at correct tactical solutions, and practice— even 
theoretical practice -tends to produce confidence in our 
solutions which, in turn, makes it easier for us, and thus 
quicker, to reach a decision. 

English common law, the fountainhead of our juridical 
system, holds that you may use sufficient force and vio- 
lence to prevent an assailant from inflicting death or serious 
injury upon you— or your wife, or your child, or any other 
innocent party. You may not pursue your attacker with 
deadly intent, and you may not strike an unnecessary blow, 
but if someone is trying to kill you, you are justified in 
killing him to stop him, if there is no other way. This is 
putting it about as simply as possible, and since the law 
here is eminently reasonable, the legal aspects of personal 
defense need not detain us in formulating a proper defen- 
sive decision. We must be sure that our assailant is trying to 
kill or maim us, that he is physically capable of doing so, 
and that we cannot stop him without downing him. These 
conditions can usually be ascertained in the blink of an eye. 
Then we may proceed. (Incidentally, rape is generally con- 
sidered "serious injury" in this connection. A man who 
clearly intends rape may thus be injured or killed to prevent 


the accomplishment of his purpose, if no lesser means will 

So, when under attack, it is necessary to evaluate the 
situation and to decide instantly upon a proper course of 
action, to be carried out immediately with all the force you 
can bring to bear. He who hesitates is indeed lost. Do not 
soliloquize. Do not delay. Be decisive. 



Principle Three: 

In defense we do not initiate violence. We must grant 
our attacker the vast advantage of striking the first blow, or 
at least attempting to do so. But thereafter we may return 
the attention with what should optimally be overwhelming 
violence. "The best defense is a good offense." This is true, 
and while we cannot apply it strictly to personal defensive 
conduct, we can propose a corollary: "The best personal 
defense is an explosive counterattack." Those who do not 
understand fighting will at once suggest that numbers, size, 
strength, or armament must make this instruction invalid. 
They will insist that the aggressor will not attack unless he 
has a decisive preponderance of force. This is possible, but 
it is not by any means always, or even usually, true. Con- 
sider the Speck case, in which the victims outnumbered the 
murderer eight to one. They disposed of far more than 
enough force to save their lives, but only if they had 
directed that force violently and aggressively against the 
murderer. This they failed to do. There are countless other 


The victory of an explosive response by an obviously 
weaker party against superior force is easy to observe in the 
animal world. A toy poodle runs a German Shepherd off his 
property. A tiny kingbird drives off a marauding hawk. A 
forty-pound wolverine drives a whole wolf pack away from 
a kill that the wolves worked hours to bring down. Aggres- 
siveness carries with it an incalculable moral edge in any 
combat, offensive or defensive. And the very fact that the 
assailant does not expect aggressiveness in his victim 
usually catches him unaware. 

If the intended victim is armed, skill becomes a factor 
more critical than numbers. A man with a powerful, reliable 
sidearm, and who is highly qualified in its use, can ruin a 
rifle squad at close range if he can seize the initiative by 
instantaneous aggressive response to a clumsily mounted 
attack. Of course such skill is rare, even (or perhaps espe- 
cially) among our uniformed protectors, but it can be 
acquired. Great strides have been made in recent years in 
the theory of defensive pistolcraft The results are available 
to respectable parties. But never assume that simply having 
a gun makes you a marksman. You are no more armed 
because you are wearing a pistol than you are a musician 
because you own a guitar. 

In a recent case, a pupil of mine was assaulted by four 
men armed with revolvers as he drove into his driveway 
after a late party. Being a little the worse for wear, he 
violated (or just forgot) all the principles of personal 
defense but one and that was the principle of aggressive- 
ness. At their first volley, he laid down such a quick and 
heavy barrage of return fire (twenty-two rounds in less than 
twenty seconds) that his would-be assassins panicked and 
ran. He did most things wrong, but his explosive reaction to 


attack certainly saved his life* 

Now how do we cultivate an aggressive response? I 
think the answer is indignation. Read the papers. Watch the 
news. These people have no right to prey upon innocent 
citizens. They have no right to offer you violence. They are 
bad people and you are quite justified in resenting their 
behavior to the point of rage. Your response, if attacked, 
must not be fear, it must be anger. The two emotions are 
very close and you can quite easily turn one into the other. 
At this point your life hangs upon your ability to block out 
all thoughts of your own peril, and to concentrate utterly 
upon the destruction of your enemy. Anger lets you do this. 
The little old lady who drives off an armed robber by 
beating on him with her purse is angry, and good for her! 

The foregoing is quite obviously not an approved out- 
look in current sociological circles. That is of no conse- 
quence. We are concerned here simply with survival. After 
we have arranged for our survival, we can discuss sociol- 

If it is ever your misfortune to be attacked, alertness 
will have given you a little warning, decisiveness will have 
given you a proper course to pursue, and if that course is to 
counterattack, carry it out with everything you've got! Be 
indignant. Be angry. Be aggressive. 


Principle Four: 

Speed is the absolute essence of any form of combat, 
from a fencing match to the Six-Day War. (Absence of 
speed is what history will probably decide caused us to lose 
in Vietnam.) Napoleon said, "I may lose a battle but I will 
never lose a minute." Personal defense speeds this up. We 
must say, "I may lose this fight, but I will not lose this 
second!" Apparently overwhelming strength is of no im- 
portance if it is not brought to bear before it is pre-empted. 
In our Old West it was said, "Do unto others as they would 
do unto you, but do it first." Amen. 

Here again this essay deals purely with defense, and 
neither law nor morality justifies our flattening someone 
just because we think he might attack us. However, on the 
very instant that we know that our assailant intends us 
serious physical harm, we must work just as fast as we can. 
If he has shot at us, we must hit him before he can shoot 
again. If he is holding us by threat of force, we have the 
edge of reaction time over him. 

The stake in personal defense is your life. You cannot 


afford to play by sporting rules. Be fast, not fair. Be "off- 
side" on the play. No referee will call it back. 

The perfect fight is one that is over before the loser 
really understands what is going on. The perfect defense is 
a counterattack that succeeds before the assailant discovers 
that he has bitten off more than he can chew. 

Therefore, if you are attacked, retaliate instantly. Be 
sudden. Be quick. Speed is your salvation. 



Principle Five: 

(and, if firearms are used, Precision) 

You must keep your head. If you "lose your cool" under 
deadly attack, you will probably not survive to make ex- 
cuses. So don't bother to improvise any . . . just keep your 
head. Anger, as long as it is controlled anger, is no obstacle 
to efficiency. Self-control is one thing the sociopath does 
not usually possess. Use yours to his undoing. 

If you counterattack with your hands, use them care- 
fully. (Remember that a blow with your closed fist to your 
enemy's head will almost always wreck your hand. A 
finger in his eye is easier, safer, and likely to be more 

If you improvise a weapon from objects at hand, use it 
in a way most likely to do damage without loss or 
breakage. The points of most improvised weapons, from 
umbrellas to fire pokers, are usually more effective than the 
edges, as they can be applied with less warning and without 
exposure during a "windup." A blunt point should be 
directed at the face or throat Drive it carefully, coolly, and 


The optimum defensive arm is the heavy-duty pistol, 
though a shotgun may surpass it for home defense if there 
is sufficient warning. If you are fortunate enough to have 
access to any sort of firearm when under attack, remember 
that it is only as good as your ability to keep cool and shoot 
carefully. My pupil, mentioned in Chapter Four, did not 
shoot carefully, and he survived largely through luck alone, 
for his attackers shot just as sloppily as he did. But we 
cannot count on miserable marksmanship in our enemies. 
The sociopath is indeed usually a bad shot, but not always, 
Clyde Barrow was quite good. 

Another student of mine did far better. To begin with, 
he heard the approach of the assassins' car in the cold grey 
light of dawn. He was alert even at that hour. He was on his 
feet immediately, pistol in hand. Through the blinds he saw 
two men coming rapidly up the walk to his door, one with a 
shotgun and one with a machine pistol. He decided that 
such a visit, with such equipment, at such an hour, needed 
no further explanation. He flung open the front door and 
went to work, and he remembered to remain cool and to 
shoot with precision. The two would-be murderers died in 
their tracks. The householder caught six pellets of bird shot 
in the leg. The attackers outnumbered and outgunned their 
proposed victim, but they were defeated and destroyed by a 
man who did everything right. 

When an expensively trained police officer from one of 
the larger police departments misses a felon six times at a 
range of ten feet (and don't think this doesn't happen), his 
failure is not due to his technical inability to hit a target of 
that size at that distance, for he has demonstrated on the 
firing range that he can do so. His failure, and often his 
consequent death, is due to his lack of concentration upon 


his marksmanship— the loss of his cool. 

The ability to remain cool under pressure comes more 
easily to some people than to others. But it is in no sense 
out of anyone's reach. In fact it is the first qualification of a 
man that Kipling calls for in his immortal poem If. It is 
illustrated beautifully every time you see a quarterback 
calmly select and hit his receiver while under the threat of 
more than one thousand pounds of rock-hard, cat-quick 
muscle only a step away. It's a matter of will. If you know 
that you can keep your head, and that you must keep your 
head, you probably will keep your head. 

To train yourself to do this takes some thought. Certain 
kinds of athletics are excellent-football, of course, in 
particular. Sailing, flying, motor racing, and mountaineer- 
ing are also good. But in my opinion the best of them all is 
the hunting of medium and big game. "Buck fever" is a 
classic affliction, and a man who has conquered it can be 
guaranteed to shoot carefully under pressure. While it is 
true that a deer is not shooting back, this is less significant 
than might at first appear. The deer is about to vanish, and, 
odd as it seems, fear of sporting failure is usually greater 
than the fear of death. This startling point is easy to prove. 
The average competitive pistol shot works and trains far 
harder to earn a little brass cup than the average policeman 
works and trains to acquire a skill that can save his life. 

Not all hunters make the grade -the woods are full of 
ditherers in red jackets. But the really expert hunter/ 
rifleman is a very good man to have on your side. 

Under any sort of attack, keep cooL And if you must 
shoot, shoot with precision. 



Principle Six: 

Anyone who willfully and maliciously attacks another 
without sufficient cause deserves no consideration. While 
both moral and legal precepts enjoin us against so-called 
"overreaction," we are fully justified in valuing the life and 
person of an intended victim more highly than the life of a 
pernicious assailant The attacker must be stopped. At once 
and completely. Just who he is, why he has chosen to be a 
criminal, his social background, his ideological or psycho- 
logical motivation, and the extent of injury he incurs as a 
result of his acts— these may all be considered at some 
future date. Now, your first concern is to stay alive. Let 
your attacker worry about his life. Don't hold back. Strike 
no more after he is incapable of further action, but see that 
he is stopped. The law forbids you to take revenge, but it 
permits you to prevent. What you do to prevent further 
felonious assault, as long as the felon is still capable of 
action, is justified. So make sure, and do not be restrained 
by considerations of forbearance. They can get you killed. 
An armed man, especially if he is armed with a firearm, is 


dangerous as long as he is conscious. Take no chances. Put 
him out. 

If you must use your hands, use them with all the 
strength you possess. Tapping your assailant half-heartedly, 
for fear of hurting him, will indeed make him mad, and 
since he has already shown that he is willing to kill you, he 
may try even harder now that you have struck him a painful 
though indecisive blow. If you choose to strike, by all 
means strike hard. 

This also applies to shooting. If you are justified in 
shooting you are justified in killing, in all but a few quite 
obvious circumstances. Don't try to be fancy. Shoot for the 
center of mass. The world is full of decent people. 
Criminals we can do without. 

We often hear it said— especially by certain police 
spokesmen who, it seems to me, should know better— that 
in the event of victimization the victim should offer no 
resistance, for fear of arousing his assailant. Perhaps we 
should ignore the craven exhortation to cowardice made 
here. "Honor" may in truth be an obsolete word. So let us 
consider only results. The Sharon Tate party did not resist 
The Starkweather victims did not resist. The La Biancas did 
not resist. Mitrione did not resist. The next time some 
"expert" tells me not to resist I may become abusive. 

Apart from the odds that you will be killed anyway if 
you submit to threats of violence, it would seem— especially 
in today's world of permissive atrocity— that it may be your 
social duty to resist. The law seems completely disinclined 
to discourage violent crime. The sociopath who attacks you 
has little to fear, at this writing, from either the police or the 
courts. The chief of police of our capital city has stated in 
print that, "The greatest real and immediate hazard that the 


hold-up man faces is the possibility that his victim may be 
armed and might shoot the criminal." (US. News and 
World Report, 8 December 1969, page 35.) The syntax may 
be a bit garbled, but the meaning is clear. If violent crime is 
to be curbed, it is only the intended victim who can do it. 
The felon does not fear the police, and he fears neither 
judge nor jury. Therefore what he must be taught to fear is 
his victim. If a felon attacks you and lives, he will reason- 
ably conclude that he can do it again. By submitting to him, 
you not only imperil your own life, but you jeopardize the 
lives of others. The first man who resisted Starkweather, 
after eleven murders, overcame him easily and without 
injury. If that man had been the first to be accosted, eleven 
innocent people would have been spared. 

The coddling of murderers has brought us to an evil 
pass. If it is truly a wise and just policy (which we may 
have serious reason to doubt), leave it to the courts. When 
your life is in danger, forget it. If you find yourself under 
lethal attack don't be kind. Be harsh. Be tough. Be ruthless. 



/ * 


Principle Seven 

This is put last on purpose, for surprise is the first 
principle of offensive combat. However, the privilege of 
striking the first blow is a luxury we must usually grant to 
our attacker, so in a sense there can be no strategic surprise 
in defense. But that does not mean that the defender cannot 
achieve tactical surprise. By doing what our assailant least 
expects us to do, we may throw him completely off. As we 
have seen, what he usually least suspects is instant, violent 
counterattack, so the principle of aggressiveness is closely 
tied to threat of surprise. 

One of the most hilarious episodes in recent cinema 
presents a bank teller debating the spelling of a written 
demand passed through the wicket by the bank robber. The 
whole affair shifts from banditry to an argument about 
whether the money can be handed over in the face of so 
badly constructed a missive. Pretty far-fetched, of course, 
but still stimulating. The unexpected is disconcerting. A 
disconcerted felon is momentarily less in charge of his own 
thoughts than the moment just before or just after. At that 


moment, his victim may be able to turn the tables. 

On a realistic note, I can point out that in every single 
successful defense against violent attack that I know of — 
and I have studied this matter for nearly three decades— the 
attacker was totally surprised when his victim did not wilt 
The speed, power, efficiency, and aggressiveness of the 
counterattack varied greatly, but the mere fact of its exis- 
tence was the most elemental component of its success. 

If you have friends in law enforcement, ask them to tell 
you the "April Fool" joke. It's a bit gamy for a publication 
of this sort, but it makes a point—and it is very funny. Its 
moral is the moral of this manual: The criminal does not 
expect his prey to fight back. May he never choose you, 
but, if he does, surprise him. 


A Final Word 

There is a purpose to be served by this essay. The 
combination of modern medical science and the welfare 
state has brought about a condition of general overcrowd- 
ing and boredom which, magnified by vast worldwide 
increases in population, has resulted in an unconscionable 
drop in personal safety. Before World War n, one could 
stroll in the parks and streets of the city after dark with 
hardly any risk-at least no more than was involved in 
driving on the highway. A young woman needed no escort 
One could safely ask for help on the road. Meeting with 
another rifleman in the woods was occasion for com- 
radeship rather than a red alert. This is true no longer. 
Today, and for the foreseeable future, the problem of 
personal risk is much more serious than of yore. Our police 
do what they can, but they can't protect us everywhere and 
all the time. All too often they cannot even protect them- 
selves. Your physical safety is up to you, as it really always 
has been. 

The principles herein enunciated are the result of a great 
deal of study and consultation, plus a fair amount of actual 
experience. Taken to heart, they may save your life. There 


is always an element of luck in any sort of conflict, and I 
know of no way to guarantee success in every instance. 
What I do know, however, is that if the victims of the dozen 
or more sickening atrocities that have gained nationwide 
fame in recent years had read this book, and had heeded 
what they read, they would have survived those actions. 
Additionally, a small but select number of goblins would 
not be alive today, bounding in and out of courts and 
costing us all money that could be much better spent. 

George Patton told his officers, "Don't worry about 
your flanks. Let the enemy worry about his flanks." It is 
high time for society to stop worrying about the criminal, 
and to let the criminal start worrying about society. And by 
"society 55 1 mean you.